Has Jared Hess run out of quirky, surreal characters to write about? At one point, people absorbed Napoleon Dynamite like it was the greatest thing ever, and here we are five years later with Gentleman Broncos and all we have are the same people.
Hess adds nothing new to his repertoire beyond loads of toilet humor. Snakes have explosive diarrhea, and people kiss after a bout of projectile vomit. Those are the highlights of Broncos “real world” humor concerning the story of a young sci-fi writer named Benjamin (Michael Angarano) who idolizes author Chevalier (Jemaine Clement). When the big time author finds himself struggling, he steals Benjamin’s story, claiming it as his own.
At least, that is what happens over an hour in to this 90-minute film. Broncos seems to forget it has a story to tell, more concerned with adding obnoxious, irritating characters that seem to exist in some parallel universe. That is of course Hess’ style, and he has done nothing to change or alter it.
The best bits, and that is a phrase used loosely, of Gentleman Broncos are the ridiculous sci-fi scenes of Benjamin’s novel brought to life. Here, Hess’ brand of humor actually fits as a parody of utterly absurd genre movies and fan fic. Deer have rocket launchers, lasers, missiles, and machine guns as Sam Rockwell embarrasses himself for a laugh. If you are going to find something funny in Broncos, it is likely to be here.
Maybe the script is a little confusing as well. Chevalier is of course a terrible writer, crafting ridiculous stories, and it is little wonder why he finds Benjamin’s work appealing enough to plagiarize it. Finding someone to actually publish it, well that just means this entire world is filled with bizarre, kooky characters, a thought that is more disturbing than funny.
Broncos never has any reactions. At one point, Chevalier’s publisher turns him down, but everything else is accepted as normal. People walk out of an amateur movie version of the story, yet you never see it happen. Reactions are funny, or at least they can be, but Hess never shows any of them. The audience realizes what a waste of time this story is, so why not offer someone to relate to? [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
Jared Hess goes for a specific style in almost every scene, creating a jarring transfer that changes styles as often as jokes bomb (that is a lot). Scenes inside Benjamin’s home are notably processed, smooth, and grain scrubbed. Considering the fine layer of natural grain elsewhere, this is undoubtedly intentional. Detail is flat in these scenes, and flesh tones are pasty white. The color of the home is weakly saturated, and black levels are typically flat.
Scenes elsewhere can impress. In fact, any shot of the “professional” movie version of the story Yeast Lords is nearly reference quality. Detail is exquisite, the ridiculous beard Rockwell wears completely defined down to individual hairs. Pores and other facial features are strong, not to mention razor sharp. Environments, digital or not, offer plenty to gawk at.
Certain scenes in the “real world” likewise perform above par. An awards ceremony about 49-minutes in, despite the warm, orange tint, looks spectacular. Even deep into the small audience, you can easily pick up on minute details. Clothing designs and stitching are generally handled well. Chevalier’s leather jacket during his first speech is superb, and the bright orange costume worn by Benjamin as he sits in a jail cell reveals every crease and stitch.
Black levels are generally flat, a concern that exists across almost every scene, minus the sci-fi shots. An amateur film that is shot on VHS looks the part when projected, and obviously does not fall into criticism of the Blu-ray itself. Some marginal ringing is sporadic, and a mild complaint at the worst. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Fox’s DTS-HD mix has quite a bit to process during the sci-fi scenes. Lasers, with most of the their sound effects borrowed from Star Wars, are handled cleanly. The effect is aided by a surround presence that captures their movement front to back, along with a small LFE boost when they hit.
A few explosions, especially the final one, really hammer the low-end with a powerful burst. Lesser moments still impress, including the rocket launching deer assault that really defies all description.
Music, mostly classic rock and ‘80s themes, are presented beautifully. Clear and smooth, they offer a wonderful uncompressed quality with distinct lyrics and crisp instrumentals. Benjamin’s life is flat by comparison, although a few moments of ambiance are well put together. Some positional work is evident during a set construction, and ambiance is lively outside the Cletus Fest hall. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
A commentary has writer/director Jared Hess, writer Jerusha Hess, and the director of photography Munn Powell joining together. Five deleted scenes run nearly six minutes, followed by a long set of outtakes that run nearly nine minutes.
One Nutty Movie is a unique making-of, comprised mostly of raw footage and containing interviews with random extras. This is actually refreshing. A collection of 18 mini-documentaries run about a minute each on average. Trailers remain. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]